A History of the Wahl Family of Quality Jewelers
Wahl Jewelers was started by F. X. Wahl. He was born in Bavaria in 1869, the youngest of eighteen children, and was trained by his mother in jewelry. He left Germany in the late 1880’s to avoid being sent to a monastery. He came to America and worked as a lamp lighter until he was able to continue in the family tradition.
Mr. Wahl started a small repair shop at the corner of State and Lake, and soon moved to Washington and Wabash. He started jewelry manufacturing at Madison and Wabash, employing ten to twelve employees and opened his first retail store at 79th and Racine in Chicago in 1894. He was a craftsman and inventor, gaining a patent in 1916 for a dust collector machine to use in polishing. His son, F. F. Wahl, joined him in the company, and later his grandson, F.C. Wahl joined the family business. .
In 1949, F. F. Wahl opened Wahl Jewelers in Des Plaines, Illinois. His son, F. C. Wahl soon opened a second store. Pursuing the same high standards, F.C. Wahl also manufactured fine quality jewelry for other jewelers as well as his own store.
R. C. Wahl (Bob) Wahl, the great grandson of founder F. X. Wahl and fourth generation jeweler, made his first ring at age six, under the tutelage of his father. He was trained in the same Old World standards as his forebears.
Bob went to work officially for Wahl Jewelers at the age of 16. By 1965 at the age of 20 he was managing the store. In 1969 he and his wife and partner Barba, purchased the store from his father. Thus began R. C. Wahl Jewelers, which has been a landmark in Des Plaines ever since.
Bob and Barba have always been active in the jewelry industry and the local community. The have been members of the Illinois Jewelers Association (IJA) for over 30 years, and Bob is a past president of the organization. He was the first person elected to receive the IJA Presidential Award. He has served on the Jewelers of America board and is a member of United Way.
Heather Wahl knew she would continue the family tradition from an early age. Her first day of work was at the age of six weeks and she is presently the fifth generation owner of RC Wahl Jewelers in partnership with her parents Bob and Barba. She graduated from Cornell College with a Bachelors Degree in Business/Economics and Psychology and followed up by becoming a Graduate Gemologist thru the Gemological Institute of America. Heather is an accomplished jewelry designer and loves reinventing vintage pieces for a modern audience.
Heather is also fully committed to the local community and our jewelry finds it’s way to many fundraising events for our local charities and organizations. She served on the Board of Directors of the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce and Industry for nine years and is a past President of the Chamber in 2007. She’s a past board member of the Des Plaines Senior Center and the District 62 Education Foundation.
Heather, Bob and Barba are dedicated to making R. C. Wahl Jewelers a part of the future of Des Plaines and the surrounding communities. In 1990 Barba was instrumental in the design of the new building at 1514 Miner Street. Combining classic architecture and her signature style the goal was to create a warm environment where our guests feel that they are being welcomed into our home. Time flies by and in the summer of 2017 updates were made and in 2022 a new area dedicated to custom design was completed. Now visitors are welcomed to sit and participate in the computer design process (CAD). They have gathered an exceptional staff to assist, including long time employees of over 30 years, and newer people with the fresh vision and perspective of today’s clients.
After 128 years, we have it right. We know how to give someone the help they need and the pleasure they deserve. We love what we do, and we do it better than anyone. Come and enjoy the RC Wahl Jewelers experience.